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Filing a Float Plan

Before going out on a vessel, it is always a good idea to leave a float plan with a local marina, relative, or friend.

A float plan should:

  • Describe the vessel, including its number, size, make, capacity, horsepower, and type of engine.
  • State where you are going, the detailed route, your planned departure time, and your expected return time.
  • Give the name, address, and telephone number of each person on board and an emergency contact.
  • If possible, include a photograph of your vessel in your float plan.

A sample float plan is available online at Or use the free U.S. Coast Guard mobile app on your smartphone to file a float plan.


Be sure to let others know when you have returned safely.

Pre-Departure Checklist

You can ensure a good time while operating your vessel by performing this pre-departure check.

  • Make sure your vessel is registered.
  • Get your boater education card.
  • Check the weather forecast for the area and time frame during which you will be boating.
  • Make sure that the steering and throttle controls operate properly and all lights are working properly.
  • Check for any fuel leaks from the tank, fuel lines, and carburetor.
  • Check the engine compartment for oil leaks.
  • Check hose connections for leaks or cracks, and make sure hose clamps are tight.
  • Drain all water from the engine compartment, and be sure the bilge plug is replaced and secure.
  • Check to be sure you have a fully charged engine battery and fire extinguishers.
  • If so equipped, make sure the engine cut-off switch and wrist lanyard are in good order.
  • Make sure you have the required number of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and check that they are in good condition.
  • Leave a float plan with a reliable friend or relative.
  • Make sure your marine sanitation device (MSD) overboard discharge valve is secured properly.
  • Make sure you have a plan in case your vessel breaks down.
  • Carry two forms of communication, such as a mobile phone and a Very High Frequency (VHF) marine radio.
Typical float plan

Float plan